Boroughs renew push on preventing HIV

A pan-London campaign highlighting the ‘four sure’ proven ways to prevent HIV has launched today.

The Do It London campaign – a collaboration between local authorities in the capital – reminds Londoners that HIV is preventable, that an HIV diagnosis is treatable, and that treatment acts as prevention.

The major advertising burst will see information about HIV prevention posted across the TfL network, on 110 roadside billboards, 80 buses, 300 telephone kiosks and social and digital media.

Despite new diagnoses of HIV in London decreasing by 41% since 2015 (from 2,536 in 2015 to 1,510 in 2019 – the latest available figures), HIV still remains a major public health challenge. Around 37,000 Londoners live with HIV and it is estimated that 2,100 have an undiagnosed HIV infection.

Do It London raises awareness of the methods of preventing HIV to groups most at risk in a determined effort to continue the encouraging recent downtrend in new HIV infections.

The four sure methods of the combination prevention approach are:
• testing regularly for the virus
• using condoms
• using the HIV prevention medicine Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
• for people who have been diagnosed HIV positive, achieving an “undetectable” viral load through the use of antiretroviral medication. This safeguards the health of people diagnosed with HIV and has the additional benefit of treatment acting as prevention and eliminating the risk of onwards viral transmission.

Cllr Danny Thorpe, London Councils’ Executive Member for Health & Care, said:

“HIV has never gone away as one of London’s major public health challenges and boroughs are determined to help Londoners protect themselves and each other.

“This campaign is a crucial reminder of the four sure methods of HIV prevention. By raising awareness and supporting Londoners to make healthy choices, we’re confident that London’s new diagnoses will continue to fall.”

Paul Steinberg, Director of the London HIV Prevention Programme, said:

“After a year of predominantly digital marketing during lockdown, we are proud to deliver another phase of high impact advertising across the city – our tenth campaign in six years.

“We want to ensure that our important message about combination HIV prevention reaches Londoners from all walks of life as they go about their business this autumn. That message is straightforward, scientifically proven and easy to understand. London has led the UK in witnessing significant reductions in new HIV diagnoses in London in recent years. But we cannot be complacent, as we continue to focus on our longstanding goal of zero new infections of HIV by 2030.”

London is a world leader in the diagnosis and treatment of HIV. In 2019, London exceeded the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target for the second consecutive year, with 95% of people living with HIV being diagnosed, 98% of those diagnosed being on treatment and 97% of those on treatment having an undetectable viral load.

Following last year’s Do It London campaign, which yielded record numbers of engagement – including over 285,000 Do It London website page views and 544 home HIV testing kits ordered – this new campaign reiterates the trust Londoners can have in combination prevention.

As the campaign highlights, the ‘four sure’ methods are scientifically proven and freely accessible ways to prevent HIV. The campaign’s target audiences will be reached using demographically tailored digital and social media, as well as specialist community channels and advertising platforms.

The new campaign will be live until 12 December 2021.

Visit www.doitlondon.org to discover more information about each method of prevention, how to access them and for direct links to sexual health services.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. Do It London is the public campaign of the London HIV Prevention Programme (LHPP), a unique partnership of 32 local authorities which is delivered on their behalf by Lambeth Council since 2014 and supported by London Councils. For more information visit: www.doitlondon.org Do It London launched in 2015 in response to rising rates of HIV infections in the capital since the turn of the century. London has since witnessed a major reduction in the number of people diagnosed with HIV and has set itself the target of ‘zero new HIV diagnoses by 2030’.

2. PrEP is for people who are HIV negative but at high risk of infection, such as men who have sex with men, black African males & females, and people who have an HIV
positive partner. Up-to-date guidance on how to access PrEP from the NHS following its recent routine commissioning (1 October 2020) can be found on our website: http://doitlondon.org/prep/

3. Undetectable or U=U (Undetectable = Untransmissible) means that people on effective HIV treatment end up having an undetectable viral load and cannot pass on/transmit the virus to their partners. This is aligned with a worldwide HIV awareness initiative known as “U=U”. For more information about the U=U initiative, visit https://www.preventionaccess.org/about

4. HIV diagnoses data, including reductions in new diagnoses and diagnosis rates for London and England, come from Public Health England data. The latest report can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/hiv-annual-data-tables

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